High imports from China push up Singapore light distillate stocks
Commercial onshore light distillate stocks in Singapore, the region’s largest oil trading hub, rose for the second consecutive week in the week ended March 20, as gasoline imports surged to a four-week high.
Stocks of light distillates were seen up 1.19% week on week to 16.71 million barrels in the week ended March 20, data released late-Thursday from Enterprise Singapore showed.
Enterprise Singapore has defined light distillates to include gasoline and blendstocks such as naphtha and reformate, but not gases like LPG.
The increase in inventories was led by a surge in gasoline imports, which rose 82.68% from the previous week to a four-week high of 371,555 mt. Grades imported were 90 RON and above, but below 97 RON.
Flows from China once again made up a bulk of imports, totaling 278,233 mt, or 75%, of total imports. Notably, imports from China were also at a four-week high, 148.7% higher week on week.
China is a major exporter of gasoline in the region, and Chinese flows into Singapore have consistently made up majority of total imports.
“The backwardation in the Asian gasoline market is quite strong now, and this has prompted players to push cargoes out instead of storing them. CNOOC has been a regular seller, with one spot tender issued almost every week,” one market source said Friday.
At the Asian close Thursday, the April/May timespread was assessed 8 cents/b higher day on day to $1.12/b. On Tuesday, the front-month spread peaked to a near six-month high of $1.16/b.
State-owned CNOOC was recently seen on the spot market offering up to 35,000 mt of 92 RON gasoline for loading over April 22-23 from Dongguan Lisha Terminal. Prior to this, CNOOC awarded two tenders for loading over April 9-10 and April 18-19. Both tenders were awarded at premiums of around $1.40 cents/b to the April average MOPS Singapore 92 RON gasoline assessments on an FOB basis.
Singapore’s exports of the same gasoline grades rose 69.83% from the previous week to 417,514 mt in the week ended March 20, though it was outpaced by the increase in imports. Exports headed mainly to Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya and Vietnam.
Despite the increase in Singapore light distillates stocks, higher RBOB cracks as a result of several refinery outages and turnarounds in the US have lent strength to the Asian gasoline market through the week. Also adding strength on the supply side is evidence of inventory drawdowns in the US as gasoline stocks further dipped to a new year to date low at of 241.503 million barrels in the week ending March 15, according to data by the US Energy Information Administration.
NAPHTHA BOOSTED BY GASOLINE
The Asian naphtha market has received an uplift from strength in the gasoline market. Benchmark CFR Japan naphtha physical crack against front-month ICE Brent crude futures rose to an average of $56.56/mt this week, from $50.33/mt one week ago, S&P Global Platts data showed.
Asia is expected to get 1.4-1.5 million mt of naphtha from other regions in April, down from March arrival volumes of 2-2.1 million mt, according to market sources.
Like gasoline, imports of naphtha, reformate and other blendstocks also surged in the week ended March 20, rising 328.6% week on week to 180,177 mt, the Enterprise Singapore data showed.
The city-state imported 43,213 mt of naphtha, reformate and other blendstocks from India, 42,739 mt from Netherlands, 30,025 mt from Malaysia and 25,753 mt from Bahrain in the week ended March 20.